Self-Defense Tips

When something shocks us, we typically freeze, and that's what the bad guys rely on. The key to not freezing is to have a plan. Marni Levine is a fourth-degree black belt in karate and is the highest ranked female instructor in Krav Maga; a self-defense method used by the Israeli Defense Forces and U.S. law enforcement agencies. Dr. Phil invites her on the show to go over some typical scenarios and the "do's" and "don'ts" of protecting yourself from an attacker.

The Scenario:
You're in a parking garage, and you're loaded down with lots of shopping bags. This is an ideal opportunity for an attacker.


  • Walk toward your car with your keys ready. Don't be distracted with your shopping bags.
  • If he's asking for your property — purse, money, car keys — give it to him.
  • Run, preferably toward a well-lit, public area where there will be people.
  • If he's trying to get you into your vehicle, fight! Scream, scratch, bite, kick, and strike back.  
  • Don't be afraid to do as much damage as possible to stun the attacker so that you can run away.
  • Use your environment. In survival confrontations, everything at hand can be used to help you escape.
  • Throw your keys, purse, coins, sand, gravel, rocks at the attacker's face. Distract him so you can escape. 
  • Don't get into a vehicle with the attacker. You never want to let him take you to a second location. Statistically, it is not in your best interest. If you get into the vehicle, he has a much better opportunity to drive to a quiet place where you'll be 100 percent at his mercy and have no way of getting help. Even if he's pointing a knife or gun at you, do whatever you can to get away. It's much more likely that he will leave to find an easier target rather than chase you and draw attention to himself.

The Scenario:
You're at the ATM and have just gotten cash. As you walk away, you're distracted with putting your money away.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings. The number one self-defense technique is being aware of potential threats.
  • Know what the possible dangers are. Note where the exits are.
  • Notice the people in your area. Make eye contact. Aggressors tend to back down if they notice you noticing them.
  • Put your money into a pocket immediately.
  • If you see a suspicious person nearby watching you, change your route and walk in the opposite direction.
  • Act confident. Do not act or look like an easy target. 
  • Don't be oblivious of your surroundings.
  • Don't count your money or put it in your purse as you walk away.This distracts you and is a perfect opportunity
      for the attacker.
  • Don't wander without direction. Walk briskly, head up, with purpose.
  • Don't look intimidated.

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